Forestry is an increasingly international profession, and 21st century Australian foresters are increasingly expected or wish to engage with opportunities and issues within our broader Asia-Pacific region.
The Future Foresters Initiative aims to support students and early career professionals in becoming actively involved with the International Forestry Students’ Association, Foresters without Borders, and IFA members working internationally, in order to enhance their international experience and broaden their networks outside Australia.
How we will do this:
International career and networking nights
Promoting international research and internship opportunities
- Facilitating connections with international forestry networks and organisations
IFA Support to Forestry Students
The IFA has been supporting the IFSA ANU Local Committee (LC) for a number of years. By sponsoring the ANU LC annual membership, the IFA has given ANU students the fantastic opportunity to access the IFSA network and to send students overseas to international conferences as delegates. Jen and Patrick were fortunate enough to be selected to represent Australia and IFSA in the 2016 COP13 and COP22 and the 2017 FAO FRO, below are their insights on some of the topics discussed at the events.
Attending the UN Forest Resources Assessment as a student observer
by Diana Tung
This past June I had the immense privilege of attending the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Forest Resources Assessment (FAO FRA) in Joensuu, Finland, as one of three student observers globally.
The FRA brought together around 70 forestry experts and national correspondents to discuss relevant topics and indicators for inclusion in the next Global Forest Resources Assessment, which is slated for release in 2020. The 2017 FRA expert meeting was also the first time students had been invited since the first report was published in 1948.
The Global FRA is an authoritative report on the state of the world’s forests and has been published every five years since 1990. Producing the Global FRA can be a lengthy and involved process because indicators are updated for each report to make the most out of technological and methodological advances, as well as to reflect evolving priorities and concerns. After the indicators have been decided upon, data collection is done through a combination of remote sensing, self-reporting by designated national correspondents and statistical modelling.
As a student of applied anthropology and development, with a focus on natural resources management, I was particularly interested in how experts would broach the topic of
measuring the social impacts of forestry. I was also interested in understanding the processes behind the production of the Global FRA and to see how differing national, regional, and thematic interests would be taken into consideration.
The FAO-FRA was a wonderful opportunity to engage with forestry experts and
national correspondents from all over the globe and to witness their contributions to the discussions. It was particularly exciting to meet Claire Howell, from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, and observe how Australia participated in the FRA. Another highlight was meeting Dr. Ruth Turia, who completed her PhD at the ANU and is now the Director of Policy and Planning at the Papua New Guinea Forest Authority, managing PNG’s first ever national forest inventory and acting as the FRA national correspondent. Meeting experts from an array of backgrounds such as forestry, law, social science, and the humanities was also incredibly encouraging, as I seek new ways to combine my interests in anthropology and natural resources management.
The 2017 FRA expert meeting was the first time students had ever been invited, and I can only hope that other students will be able to partake in future FRA events. I also strongly encourage students to get involved with the International Forestry Students’ Association, which has been in my experience a network of engaged and passionate young leaders. My sincerest thanks to the International Forestry Students’ Association and the Australian National University’s Student Extracurricular Enrichment Fund for their financial support, without which this experience would not have been possible, and to Anna Reboldi, the ANU-IFSA liaison officer, for her support throughout the application process.
Patrick Nykiel attending COP13 of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Cancun, November 2016.
Patrick is currently a Forestry Masters Student at the ANU who attended COP13 in Cancun, Mexico. He represented Australia as an observer for the International Forestry Students Association (IFSA).
It takes the perspective of distance to understand the stark differences between the economic North and South. Delegates from across the world representing almost every country gathered in Mexico with a common interest in biodiversity. To meet people from as far away as Namibia, as close as Indonesia, and as culturally different as Iran will challenge anyone’s assumptions, and I returned with some a very different understanding of the politics of agriculture.
Delegates could be broadly described as being in two groups that divided along the lines of development. Those with the most capacity to make change to their environmental management appeared to be the least willing to do so. Those with the least capability to make changes were those who spoke most vocally in favour. A phrase that would become so often uttered as to almost lose any meaning, was ‘capacity building’. Much of the debate and politics appeared to centre on the power relationship between those with capacity and those without. Australia was clearly seen to be a nation with the capacity to make change but without any interest in taking leadership or playing a strong role.
Beyond capacity building, the other dominant theme of discussion at the COP was around the impact of industrial agriculture. In brief, the ever-increasing inputs of chemical nutrients and pesticides create diminishing returns, as the loss of underlying ecosystem services undermine the benefits. Delegates from African nations were particularly concerned with what they consider to be a second wave of colonisation by agro-industry. There was also concern about patented genetic technologies embedding industrial techniques and displacing traditional agroecological farming techniques. The context of Mexico and the famous Milpa polyculture system, made this message particularly poignant. Persistent calls for guidelines on agricultural development and ethical application of genetic technologies, were made. Despite pressure from those with less capacity, community, indigenous, and youth groups, there was sufficient resistance from the highly developed industrial nations to quell any productive change.
It was of great interest to me that the greatest threat to biodiversity could also be its preserver. Agriculture has the potential to harbour diversity with added productivity gains if complexity and ecology can be embraced. While monocultural systems can yield large volumes of a product and may be appropriate in some situations, polycultural and agroecological systems offer greater food security, diversity and enhanced ecosystem services. Sadly, these ideas are not politically viable in the current global climate and require substantial support to flourish.
Jen Dawes - 2016 COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco.
Jen Dawes recently graduated with a Master of Environmental Management and Development from ANU. Currently, she works for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency as a Client Manager, and hopes to, one day, work for IRENA or the UN! She represented the IFSA ANU local committee at the 2016 COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco.
At COP22 I attended Energy Day; a lot was discussed on the concept of energy efficiency (EE), a topic not often mentioned in conjunction with RE but is seen as an essential attribute of countries achieving their Nationally Determined Contributions (NCDs). The Energy Showcase Event, presented by the International Renewable Energy Agency, comprised of five panel sessions focusing on increasing energy productivity, and the transformative role of RE.
Said Mouline, Director-General, Agency for the Development of RE and EE, Morocco, presented his case on how countries can quickly reach their NDCs by simply decreasing emissions and energy bills with EE. He noted that once you have support for technology transfer, financing, and training, along with the necessary institution, regulation, legislation, and capacity building, you can then apply EE to all sectors. However, there should not just be policy for EE; it needs to encompass both EE and RE in partnership.
One example he gave was the transition of farmers using diesel pumps to solar pumps. They were trained in the more efficient method and worked with local Moroccan banks to finance the change-over. Also, policy was created in 2009 to incorporate RE and EE and remove subsidies for fossil fuels. This led to an increase in diesel price while solar PV prices decreased – it essentially opened up a whole new space in the energy market. It also provided an economic benefit to the farmers, who are now self-sustaining.
Energy Day really inspired me and I’m incredibly grateful that it formed part of COP22 in Week 1. It was also lovely to meet Adnan Amin and briefly chat about RE in Australia. The case for RE and EE proves to be incredibly strong as a long-term solution.